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Neighbors dogs caused damage

Discussion in 'Small Claims & Municipal Court' started by Moore, Aug 26, 2020.

  1. Moore

    Moore Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    Almost a month ago, my cat sitting in my yard was viciously attacked by 2 of my neighbor's dogs, and just about died. I got the cat to the Vet returned home and called the Sheffie to make a report. After that, the cat stayed at the Vet for a long time. When she came back home it included a hefty vet bill. When I went to the Sheriff's office to ask for a copy of the report on the incident, they handed me a paper to file an Affidavit for general sessions court for 'Dog at large' and told me they don't do reports any other way. I scratched my head a bit confused and walked off. I was not quite ready to go that extreme, let's try to be more neighborly first I thought. So I sent my neighbor a letter of demand detailing what had happened. Also, I had attached the Vet bill and told him I would like to get this settled within the next 2 weeks or I would have to proceed with filing with General Session Court on this matter.

    Yesterday, I got a letter from his Attorney saying he accepts no blame nor any wrongdoing or fault in the injury of my cat and therefore is willing to give my 1/2 on the Vet bill and in return sign an agreement a nondisclosure agreement about the involving of the injury of my cat.

    Well, here is the thing. The bill is high and even 1/2 bill will still leave a large sum on my end, that I should not have to cover. The funny thing is I am not even charging him for the 3 visits I have been doing since she has returned home for follow-ups and removing the staples. I have been paying does myself. He is responsible for the injury of my cat and the negligence of keeping his dogs in his yards, this is not the first time they have been in my yard causing trouble. I have dogs too, and mine are in my yard.

    OK, the question, do I need to retain a lawyer on this matter, or should I just file that Affidavit like the Sherriff said from the beginning? If I have to get a Lawyer and spend more money on this matter can I sue my neighbor for the extra expenses as well?

    If I wanted to return a letter to his Lawyer, what would be a smart thing to say?

    I am in Tennessee.
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    No one is responsible for ANY ALLEGED DAMAGES until it is proven in court that the person was responsible.

    If you wish to attempt to hold the person accountable, your recourse is to take the matter to court.

    Be advised, that even IF you prove Person "A" liable for the injuries suffered by your feline, all the court can do is provide you with a judgment indicating that Person "A" owes you $XXXX.

    You must then endeavor to collect the monies owed.

    There are many ways for a cagey, clever, slippery defendant to avoid paying you one, red penny!

    You, however, have an offer on the table from the Person "A".

    Yes, its much less than you desire, but it is an offer.

    Now you must decide IF you can PROVE your assertions to the satisfaction of the judge.

    Person "A" has demonstrated to you, that he will avail himself of all his legal rights.

    He has already engaged an attorney to spearhead that effort.

    You have many things to consider.

    Ultimately YOU must decide what you will do next.

    I pray your wisdom will lead you to the correct choice.

    You can sue anyone for any amount you wish.

    In the instant matter we are discussing, NO, Person "A" will not be held responsible for your legal fees.

    That is something you must decide.

    It never hurts to speak to an attorney, and in most cases the initial consultation is normally offered at no charge to the prospective client.

    Bear in mind the following:

    In counties of 700,000 or more people, a small claims court hears small claims disputes for up to $25,000.

    In Tennessee's counties with populations under 700K, Statute 16-15-501 (Title 16, Ch. 15, Part 5, Section 501) establishes that the Court of General Sessions hears small claims disputes for $15,000 or less.

    Tennessee General Sessions Court (Small Claims Court)


    If you retain an attorney, your attorney will communicate with the defendant's attorney.

    If you choose not to hire an attorney, silence is your best strategy, UNLESS you wish to take the deal that has been proposed.
     
  3. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    What the heck is "the Sheffie"?

    No. If you hire a lawyer, it will be at your expense.

    Is there an amount between 100% and 50% that you'd be willing to accept? If so, you could negotiate. If not, then just file suit.
     
  4. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Lawyers are optional in General Sessions Court. Understand that it doesn't cost much to get a lawyer to write a letter but it might cost him thousands to hire the lawyer to defend him. Though, truth be told, if he had half a brain it would be his homeowners insurance company providing the lawyer for free.

    Sorry, in the American legal system each party pays its own lawyer and does not get the money back. There are exceptions but this isn't one of them.

    Before you do that, please answer the following important question:

    Did you, or anybody else, actually SEE the neighbor's dogs attack your cat?
     
  5. Moore

    Moore Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I saw the attack and my dad saw the dogs run away from the property. I actually was the one that got the dogs off the cat before they could kill her.
     
  6. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    If you proceed with any legal action you could also lose that 50% offer.
    I suggest you get your initial consultation and determine whether you have a strong enough case to go forward demanding more. Otherwise, take what you can get while the offer is on the table.

    Just curious... Is there a fence between yards? How do you know your cat had not wandered into the neighbor yard before being attacked? Cats are notorious for jumping fences and going where they please.
     
  7. Moore

    Moore Law Topic Starter New Member

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    The attack happens 15 yards outside my front door, where my cat was sleeping in her favorite chair that morning. She did not even know what was coming. She is an older cat and did not wander anywhere as she just had gone out 15 minutes prior and laid in her chair. I am in a more rural area, so no fence in between the properties. My yard is good-sized, it would be taken her longer to wounder over there cause an issue and then run back to be attacked. Besides, the dogs walked up on my driveway from off the front road like they like to do as they stroll the neighborhood.
     
  8. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    How much are the bills? Dollar amount please.
     
  9. Moore

    Moore Law Topic Starter New Member

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    The total is not quite $ 2000.00
     
  10. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    Take the neighbor to small claims court and sue him. Make sure you take all police/animal control reports with you.

    Keep your cat indoors or build an enclosure for her so she is safe. :)
     
  11. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Try this before you sue. Fill out the court complaint form. Don't file it yet. Attach a copy to a letter to the lawyer declining the offer and demanding payment in full by a certain date (ten days or two weeks, whatever you are comfortable with) and that you will file suit if the deadline date passes without receiving payment.

    Don't bluff. Be prepared to file if you are going to threaten to file and don't wait past the day after the deadline date.
     
    mightymoose and justblue like this.
  12. Moore

    Moore Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Looking for some more input. I did go ahead and send back a letter to the lawyer of my neighbor to accept the offer. Yesterday I got the letter of "Dispute Resolution Agreement' from the lawyer to finalize the deal. However, I am not sure if I like the stipulation he has listed. I am not quite sure what some mean. Since this has begun, my neighbor's dogs have been in my yard already three more times. I now have cameras and got them on my camera at least one time since.

    I am afraid that with signing this paper, I may limit myself for future legal actions against my neighbor if his dogs would again cause damage to my property or my family.

    Any input is greatly appreciated. Here is what I received from the lawyer.

    upload_2020-9-29_12-36-12.png
     
  13. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Read #4.
    If you aren't sure about the effect of signing such a document, then you are going to need to review it with an attorney (not an internet forum). Such review and specific advice is beyond the scope of an internet forum.
     
  14. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    View attachment 2875

    It's a simplified settlement agreement and release of claims.

    However, it's customary for settlement agreements to refer to the incident and the date for which the agreement is being made.

    Ask the lawyer to rewrite the agreement to reflect same.

    Once you get the money, use part of it to buy a rifle. Then tell your neighbor the next time his dogs invade your property you will shoot them. I know, it's a terrible thing to have to contemplate. It's not the dogs' fault it's the owner's.

    If the idea bothers you buy an air operated pellet rifle. The sting of the pellets might convince the dogs to stay home.
     
  15. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Motion activated sprinklers come to mind as well, assuming the dogs don't like it.
     
  16. Moore

    Moore Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you for the information. I will let the lawyer know and have him add that. I take it then part 7 does not restrict me from calling the Sherrif on him again if ever anything happens again with his dog in my Yard and this time I do want to take him to court.

    I was told by other neighbors to get a gun and protect myself that way. I should not have to kill an animal because someone else is not responsible. I do like the idea of a pellet rifle. Or perhaps a paint gun. Let's see how he feels when they come back all painted up.
     
  17. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    There is a difference between calling the Sherrif to report a crime and suing. You can always report a crime. Any clause in a contract that said you couldn't would be unenforceable.

    Paragraph 7 simply states that if there is a breach, of the contract that A) it will be heard in the named county and B) that the loser pays the other guys legal fees.

    Strange that it doesn't say the state.
     
  18. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Frankly, I question if that was actually drawn up by an attorney. #3 is nonsensical.
     
  19. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Why do you think this? I don't see anything in the document that would cause that result.

    It's meaningless, but I wouldn't go so far as to say "nonsensical."
     
  20. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    How does "perspective properties" make any sense (setting aside, of course, the fact that it would be meaningless if it actually stated what we all know it was meant to state)?
     

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